Today's poem is by Chris Mattingly

Bon Fire

Out back of the house Mom and I are feeding a fire
Furniture broken from a fight. The wood so cheap

It melts like glue. Like faces in the family photographs.
The mattress will be last, so for now it's a fireside seat

Shared with the pack of reds and pint of Early Times.
Yellow smoke hovers over our heads like words

We don't sae. There is a narrative here:
Implied in the ridge of fist marks shading her jaw,

Embedded like the broken glass in her boyfriend's foot
When he stumbled out hungry, mumbling

Something about supper, and she sprayed
A fistful of gravelly words making him cat-scatter

Back in the house. l want to tell her this won't last.
If for no reason other than he will overdose

Six months down the road. She'll move deeper
Into the country of her estrangement.

And I will leave for the coast, opting for a backseat bed
In a Honda Accord over the basement mattress

In a Dark and Bloody Ground. I wish I could
Run my fingertip in circles on her sweaty palm

Or pat my hand like a wing upon her back and say, OK
Mom, you'll be my daughter. And I'll be the father

You never knew. I will lift you from your burning life
And carry you to the river where we'll sit

Licking ice cream cones. But I can't. I'm only 19
And still think I'm going to live forever.

That half of everyone I'll ever love I haven't met.
That when I leave I'm leaving for good.

Copyright © 2013 Chris Mattingly All rights reserved
from River Styx
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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